Cleo Credit Builder card Review
A “zero-fee” secured charge card tied to the Cleo credit-building app.
- Get this card if you like the idea of a credit-building card requiring you pay off your balance each month.
- Pick something else if you want a credit-building card that reports to all three major credit bureaus instead of just one.
- Apply with a poor credit score of 500 or higher.
Recommended credit score
|Annual fee conditions||For $14.99 a month you’ll get a Cleo Builder subscription that unlocks your card, cash advances, cashback rewards, and priority support for your credit journey.|
|Rewards||The Cleo Plus service is included with the Cleo Builder service and allows you to earn cash back with select retailers offered through Button as well as click-through offers and daily cash challenges.|
|Balance transfer APR||N/A|
|Minimum Credit Score||500|
Steven Dashiell is Senior Writer, Personal Finance at Finder specializing in all things credit cards. With more than 300 articles under his belt, he aims to help readers embrace credit cards and maximize their rewards. Steve is studying to become a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, and is a frequent face on Finder’s YouTube channel, offering the latest in credit card hacks and advice. His expertise has been featured on numerous outlets, including U.S. News & World Report, NASDAQ, Time, CBS, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Martha Stewart Living and more.
The Cleo Credit Builder card is an interesting approach to the traditional secured card. While you fund the Cleo Credit Builder in similar fashion to a standard secured card, the Cleo Card is a charge card. That means you’ll need to pay off any spending you make on the card at the end of that same month.
As a result, the card is quite flexible: it doesn’t feature any fees, has no minimum security deposit and even offers reward opportunities through the Cleo Builder service.
Unfortunately, the Cleo Builder service is something of a blessing and a curse. Cleo Builder offers a variety of services to members, including personal finance management services, cashback opportunities, and the ability to apply for the Cleo Builder card in the first place.
However, this service comes at a fee of $14.99 monthly. You might think of this as a $180 annual fee to use the card, which is sizable for a credit-building card.
Whether this fee is worth it depends on how useful you find the unique perks of the Cleo service, such as the “Salary Advance” feature that grants you up to $100 as an “advance” which you’ll need to pay back, or the partnered retailers that offer cash back on purchases.
Another sore spot: the Cleo Credit Builder card only reports your purchasing activity to Experian, instead of all three of the major credit bureaus. We may have let this slide a few years ago when decent credit-building cards were fewer in number, but in today’s market there’s no excuse for a credit-building card to only report to one of the major bureaus.
The Cleo Credit Builder card ultimately isn’t a terrible card – a lot of consumers may benefit from the imposed structure of charge card repayments – but for the price, it falls short of the stiff competition available from major providers.
How to apply for the Cleo Credit Builder card
To apply for the Cleo Credit Builder card, you’ll first need to sign up for a Cleo Builder account.
- Download the Cleo app on the Apple or Android app store.
- Sign up for the Cleo Builder service.
- After activating the service and logging in, you’ll have the option to apply for the Cleo Credit Builder card.
- Go to the provider's site and select Apply now.
Cleo Credit Builder card benefits
- No standard fees. The Cleo Card lacks any of the fees associated with traditional secured cards, such as late fees or an annual fee.
- No minimum security deposit. Whatever amount you deposit into your Builder account will serve as your credit limit. Unlike many secured cards, there isn’t a minimum necessary to deposit to open your account.
- Charge card. The Cleo Card is a charge card, which means you must pay off your balance in full at the end of each month. This can help you develop strong credit habits and ensures your purchases never rack up interest.
- Rewards. The Cleo Plus service is included with the Cleo Builder service and allows you to earn cash back with select retailers offered through Button as well as click-through offers and daily cash challenges.
Cleo Credit Builder card drawbacks
- Only reports to one credit bureau. Cleo will only report your spending and payments to Experian. Most effective secured cards on the market will report to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
- Requires a monthly subscription fee. To apply and continue to use the Cleo Card, you need a $14.99 monthly subscription to the Cleo Builder service. This effectively costs $180 each year, which is quite high for a secured card.
Compare secured credit cards
For a better idea of how the Cleo Credit Builder stacks up against other secured cards on the market, select up to four cards and choose Compare to see them side-by-side.
Cleo Credit Builder card customer reviews and complaints
Cleo doesn’t yet have a page on the Better Business Bureau, though the company does sport a 3.5 customer rating on Trustpilot as of November 2021. Customer complaints include poor customer service and difficulties connecting accounts to the service.
The Cleo Credit Builder card is a nice idea saddled with a detrimental monthly fee and reporting process that harms the overall value of the card. If you’re already a fan of the Cleo app then this card can become a solid upgrade on your account to help you build your credit. But if you’re looking for lower fees, bigger rewards or the opportunity to graduate to a better card down the line, you’ll want to have a look at your other secured card options.